Mexico Captures Drug Cartel Leader El Tio (The Uncle)

Image: Mexico Captures Drug Cartel Leader El Tio (The Uncle) Dionicio Loya Plancarte, El Tio (The Uncle)

Tuesday, 28 Jan 2014 06:56 AM

By Michael Mullins

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Mexico has captured Dionicio Loya Plancarte, known as El Tio (The Uncle), leader of the Knights Templar drug cartel, in the nation's western Michoacan state.

Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong arrested Loya Plancarte.

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"[Plancarte] was detained thanks to the work of our intelligence team, the work of our federal agencies which have shown that you can achieve results when you work this way," Osorio Chong said Monday, the BBC reported.

Plancarte was captured in the midst of the government's talks with armed vigilantes in the region who have been battling the Knights Templar drug cartel and have reportedly successfully pushed it out of several former strongholds in the area.

On Monday, the government said it had reached an agreement with vigilante leaders to incorporate the armed civilian groups into old and largely forgotten quasi-military units called the Rural Defense Corps. Vigilante groups estimate their numbers at 20,000 men under arms, the Associated Press reported.

Despite the success the armed militias have had in turning the tide against the drug cartel, the interior minister placed the focus on the military's efforts in the region and appeared to downplay the militias'.

"It is not through violence that you can stop [gang members] and detain them, but through the institutional work of the Mexican government, to restore peace to the Mexican people," the interior minister said, referring to the self-defense groups.

As for accepting the vigilante units as part of the Rural Defense Corps, the interior minister's office said the armed civilians would operate under the military's guidance and be deployed only under the government's direction on a temporary status.

There were reports that members of the vigilante group were initially assisted by members of the federal police task force, but these claims were disputed by the Mexican government.

Ramon Contreras, an activist in the vigilante movement from the town of La Ruana, which was the first to rise up against the Knights Templar, said the cartel leader's arrest "means a lot" to the vigilantes. He added that they won't rest until all the top bosses are arrested, the AP noted.

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